The Best Healthy Foods for Strong Bones

Olive oil

Olive oil may be most well-known for its heart-health benefits, but the monounsaturated fat could also protect against breast cancer, improve brain health, and perk up hair, skin, and nails. Now, an olive oil-rich diet may boost your health for another reason: It seems to help strengthen the bones, according to a new study.

Milk (and yogurt and cheese) isn’t the only way to keep your skeleton strong. Here are some other healthy eats that have been linked to bone health from Shape.com :

1. Soy: Soy foods are protein-rich, dairy-free ways to boost your calcium intake. The average adult needs about 1,000 milligrams of this essential nutrient every day. A half-cup serving of tofu fortified with calcium (not all brands are prepared this way, CookingLight.com points out) contains about 25 percent of that. A cup of soybeans contains 261 milligrams of calcium, plus 108 milligrams of magnesium.

2. Fatty fish: Milk, cheese, yogurt, and tofu won’t do you much good without your daily dose of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Most adults need about 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day, according to the National Institutes of Health. A three-ounce serving of sockeye salmon clocks in at nearly 450 IU, a can of sardines contains 178 IU, and three ounces of canned tuna totals about 70 IU.

3. Bananas: Bananas are a well-known potassium gold mine, but don’t often make lists of foods for healthy bones. However, at 422 milligrams for a medium fruit, they’re not to be ignored.

4. Potatoes: Some research suggests that a potassium-rich diet may counteract some of the decline in calcium absorption seen in the typical Western diet. The average adult needs about 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day. One medium sweet spud with skin has 542 milligrams and a medium white potato with the skin has 751 milligrams.

5. Almonds: Nuts—like olive oil—are rich in healthy fats and part of the typical Mediterranean diet, though the new study found a stronger relationship between healthy bones and a diet enriched with olive oil than a diet enriched with nuts. A one-ounce serving of almonds contains 80 milligrams of calcium, but it also packs nearly 80 milligrams of magnesium, another key player for strong bones. The average adult needs around 300 to 400 milligrams a day, according to the NIH.

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